Monday, June 27, 2011

What to do on Saturday?

On Saturday we headed up to Cades Cove for a picnic! Cades Cove was a little busy, but really not too bad for a Saturday and perfect weather. We saw a few deer and even a mama bear and cubs up on a ridge. Seeing that really made me wish I had a longer lens for my camera...

We also drove on Little River road and stopped to so I could take pictures and Dylan could throw rocks in the river. Dave also brought along Dylan's remote control boat (thanks Chad!) and had fun driving it around the river.
Cold water!

Dylan and Grandma Carolyn looking for a good rock to throw in the stream.

Dylan loved seeing and petting the horses!

This horse was very friendly!


We also stopped along the Little River to strech our legs...

And watch people tubeing.

Dylan and I even got a picture together!

He must be jumping or climbing at all times. Maybe all almost 3  year old boys are part monkey?

Friday, June 24, 2011

German Queen

Can you guess what at German Queen is?

It's not a Queen that lives in Germany


A German drag queen

it's a


That's right, it's a type of tomato plant! I also bought a Celebrity tomato plant, which brings us up to 8 tomato plants. I planted the German Queen and Celebrity about a month after I planted the other plants in the hopes of having a later season tomato crop. We shall see how my experiment goes.

The zucchini plant is growing like a weed.


And I had to stake up my container tomato plants after our storm the other night.


How is your garden doing this summer?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

UT Gardens

I had some time before my photography class on Tuesday night (the night the storm hit) so I stopped by the University of Tennessee Gardens. We  have driven past there countless times, but had not stopped before. There were excellent photo opportunities everywhere! Here are a few of my pictures:



pink rose


Branches down!

Knoxville had a huge storm go through on Tuesday night. I was in my photography class at UT and the power went out about 8:30pm. As I was driving home most traffic signals were out and there were branches down everywhere. We had branches down in our yard too, luckily we didn't loose power like the other 170k people in the area!



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Two-Fer Tuesday

I've had my camera in manual mode since I started my photography class last week and haven't had much time to play with the settings so you are only getting one picture this week!

Dylan was showing Uncle Kyle and Grandma Carolyn how good he is at riding his bike!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Homeade Buffalo Chicken Salad

A few weeks ago when we were at the Market Square Farmer's Market we bought some Buffalo Chicken Salad from Mrs. Cockadoodles. It was good, but it wasn't very buffalo like. So I decided to make my own and it turned out awesome!

Here's the super easy recipe:

1/2 c. mayo
1/4 c. Buffalo sauce (I used Frank's)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 c. finely diced celery
1/4 c. blue cheese crumbles
1 whole chicken roasted and cut into small pieces (mine was missing a leg though...I was starving while I was cutting up the cooked chicken :)

Mix the mayo through thyme together in a small bowl. Then add to the chicken and mix thoroughly. Stir in the celery and blue cheese crumbles. You can serve this right away, but I would recommend letting it sit for an hour or so in the refrigerator so the flavors can come together.

If you want the buffalo flavor even stronger you can add more buffalo and less mayo, which I may do next time, although this did turn out just about perfect sauciness wise!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011


Have you made risotto before? Apparently it is one of those dishes that scares some people. They they that it's really difficult to make and don't try it at home. If you are one of those people, then you are missing out. Yes, risotto is somewhat time consuming and your arm may get tired from all of the stirring, but if you are patient with it and give it enough liquid you will not be disappointed.

The first time I made risotto was when we lived in Florida. We had our friends Kate and Carl over for dinner and instead of the same old side dishes I made risotto and it turned out great. It never occurred to me that it would be difficult to make until Kate asked me if I had made it before. I told her no, but it couldn't be that hard could it? And it wasn't, it was a simple recipe for basic risotto flavored with chicken stock and not much else if I can remember.

Fast forward a few years, while looking through Cooking Light I stumbled upon a recipe for risotto with grape tomatoes, mozzarella and a balsamic reduction. Sign me up! We all know that I love tomatoes and mozzarella and paired with risotto and a balsamic reduction, nothing could be wrong with that. I was right, it was perfect. I've shared the recipe with friends over the years and everyone loves it. And while I have had some risotto making issues over the years (under cooked rice) I have come to realize that if you just add enough liquid you can alleviate your problems (and by enough liquid I mean almost 5 cans of chicken stock!) I think it also helps to use a dutch oven. I finally got a dutch oven late last year and its been wonderful. It's a Lodge brand Dutch Oven and it has been excellent for everything from risotto to chili to frying chicken wings.

I hadn't made risotto in a while, but that all changed on Saturday. A few weeks ago I printed off a  Risotto Primavera recipe from The Pioneer Woman and I was drooling every time I looked at the picture of the creamy rice and vegetables. I used peas, asparagus, yellow squash, onion, green onion and carrots. The Pioneer Woman's recipe uses cauliflower, broccoli, yellow squash (I keep typing squarsh :) and peas along with the onions. I think any combo of the veggies would be excellent and it's nice because you can tailor it to you specific likes and dislikes. I also used mozzarella cheese instead of goat cheese. I had the mozzarella at home and didn't want to spend $5 for a few ozs of goat cheese.

Here's a photo of the risotto when it was almost done. See how creamy it is? Yummm!


Cooked vegetables ready to add to the risotto when it's finished cooking!

Finished risotto!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fun in Iowa!

Yes, fun and Iowa do go in the same sentence! We had a great visit to Iowa to see my parents and grandparents. It had been over a year since we had been back to Eastern Iowa to see my family, far too long!

We had a busy few days while we were there. We had planned to head to my dad's right away on Thursday when we arrived, but I forgot my camera at home, so we had to make a pit stop at my Mom's house to borrow her camera. It was our first time seeing her new house. She did such a great job decorating, renovating and painting! It was great to see all her hard work in person.

After our pit stop we made our way to my Dad and step-mom's house on the Wapsi River just outside of DeWitt. Every Thursday night from May-August they have a neighborhood fish fry. We have heard stories of the fish fries quite often, but hadn't experienced one until our visit. My dad is the fish fry master (and also the most interesting man on the Wapsi!) and everyone contributes a few dishes, from mac and cheese, deviled eggs, to fruit and dessert, there is something for everyone.

The Fry Master!

However, our sometimes picky eater Dylan was not in the mood for a fish fry, so he ate dinner before we did.


Which was a good thing because he was busy the rest of the night playing catch.


And catching up with his Great Grandpa Dallas! We were so happy my grandpa was feeling well enough to join us on Thursday night. He and my grandma came out for an hour or so and it was great to catch up with them!


You may be wondering how the neighborhood feeds 30-40 people a ton of fish every Thursday. This is how...


Just before we left Friday morning a few of my dad's neighbors came in on their boat with a 30 lb, 2-20 lb and 2-10 lb catfish. And that was just the catch from that morning's bank lines!

On Friday morning we headed over to my grandparents house for a few hours to catch up more with them. Dylan kept his Great Grandpa busy showing him all the Toy Story characters!


After our visit with the Grandparents we went to my Mom's house so Dylan could take his afternoon nap. But on our way was Dave's favorite place to eat, Taco John's so of course we had to stop! It was just as fabulous as he remembered. The super potato ole's were excellent as usual!

Dylan took a good nap and Dave wanted to go and hit some golf balls, so we dropped him off at the local public course. Mom and I took Dylan to Vanderveer Park. It's very close to her house and has a great fountain, lake, and playground equipment. Dylan loved seeing the fountain. And throwing coins in it with Grandma!



We also checked out the playground.



After the park we went to pick Dave up from the golf course. Dylan wanted to practice his putting too.



On Saturday we headed up to LeClaire, for the 2nd Annual American Pickers Festival! Dave and I are big fans of the show and luckily the festival happened to be going on the weekend we visited. LeClaire is just a short drive from Davenport, so we were checking out the city wide garage sales on our way down to the festival before we knew it! We even picked up a Chicago Bears shirt for Dylan.

When we arrived at the festival Mike and Danielle were speaking and talking about how the show started and telling stories. It was fun to hear them talk about things we have seen on the show and their take on what happens.


There was also a petting zoo close to the stage. Other than almost being trampled by some goats we had fun petting the different animals.


There were also antique/flea market vendors, food and a classic car show at the festival. If it wouldn't have been so hot we probably would have spent more time there.

My sister, Dana, also drove down from Chicago to spend Saturday with us. Dylan loves seeing Aunt Dana!


Sunday was our last day in Iowa and we spent it out on the river at my dad's. We took a few boat rides, visited with my grandparents and hung outside. We got to spend a few more hours that evening with my mom too! It was a great way to end our weekend in Iowa!



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Just when we thought things couldn't get any worse

The Jeep died on our way home from Iowa last night about 80 miles from Knoxville. I am not kidding. We must have some kind of curse on us lately. First the radiator goes out in the car, then the computer gets some sort of super virus (luckily it wasn't the hard drive), then the water heater and now, what we think is the water pump went out in the Jeep. It did choose to die in Corbin, KY, which is a good sized town. So we were able to find a hotel last night and a service station this morning to look at the Jeep and hopefully fix it. Our hotel even has a pool! So hopefully we will be able to entertain Dylan for a few hours while we are waiting for the repairs on the Jeep.

We did have an awesome weekend in Iowa. It was great to see my grandparents and parents. Dylan had lots of fun playing with his grandparents too.